About 1,200 people from across state gathered in Columbus early last week for Ohio’s 2018 Opiate Conference sponsored by the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, the trade association representing Ohio’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) boards.
Portsmouth and Scioto County were well represented at the conference, the ninth annual session. Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware collected the first CARES Award, as selected by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. Ware credited the members of his and the city of Portsmouth with earning the award. “This award is not about me, it’s the city’s award. I’m just the voice,” Ware said. ( See related story.)
Keynote speakers at the conference included United States Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hargan and Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld (ret.), the Co-Chair of SAFEProject US. Winnefeld shared the story of how his family was impacted by the epidemic, how his son struggled with addiction and ultimately died from an overdose.
While addressing the crowd, Winnefeld shared, “We need to change our mantra around substance use prevention from Just Say ‘No’ to Just Say ‘Know.’”
He later said, “We are going to win this at the community level. All groups come together, break down the attitudes and understand what we do, can work together.”
In addition to Ware and some others, Scioto County was represented by Susan Shultz, Executive Director of the ADAMHS board for Adams, Lawrence and Scioto counties. Shultz told the Daily Times the biggest problem facing this area right now in terms of the opiate crisis is finding beds for addicts seeking recovery.
“That’s very, very hard right now,” she said.
Shultz added the Counseling Center, an official 501c3 charity with its headquarters in downtown Portsmouth, helps considerably but quickly added it’s not enough.
Shultz also talked about the local ADAMHS board receiving funding to continue an Opiate Quick Response Team now serving Scioto County, and in the future, hopefully at least part of Adams County. The team will respond to any local emergency room dealing with an opiate overdose, offering help and doing whatever they can to aid the situation. Shultz said should an addict walk into an ER looking for recovery help, the quick response team can aid in getting that person into a rehab program.
Ohio currently has over 40 ADAMHS boards, statutorily empowered to plan, develop, fund, manage, and evaluate community-based mental health and addiction services. Federal, state and local funds are utilized by local boards as they work to ensure that mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery support services are available to individuals and families in communities throughout Ohio.
The Columbus conference included over a dozen breakout sessions on topics ranging from recovery housing, medication assisted recovery treatment (a hot topic right now) and one other topic you don’t hear much about though maybe you should: opiates and the elderly. Shultz talked briefly about how some elderly patients can, as anyone else, end up addicted to pain medication initially prescribed by their doctors.
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101